Dean shares recipes for Christmas appetizers

Cooking with Dean

On his weekly cooking segment, WGN Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards shares recipes for Yia Yia’s Holiday Cheese Ball, Christmas Tree Roll-up and Air Fryer Ravioli.

Christmas Tree Roll-Ups


  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup chopped drained roasted red bell peppers (from 7.25-oz jar)
  • 1 cup chopped ripe olives
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese SAVE $
  • Spinach-flavor flour tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)
  • Ripe olive pieces


  • In medium bowl, mix all ingredients except tortillas and olive pieces.
  • Divide mixture among 2 10 inch tortillas, spreading medium-thin to edges of tortillas.
  • Roll up tightly. Press each tortilla roll into triangle shape, using fingers.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
  • To serve, cut rolls into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Place olive piece at bottom of each triangle to look like tree trunk; secure with toothpick.



  • 1 (10 ounce) package refrigerated ravioli
  • 1 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Marinara and fresh parsley for serving


1. On the stove or microwave bring medium sized bowl of water to a boil. Drop ravioli in for about 5 minutes. Drain and cool.

2. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs with 1/2 cup or Parmesan cheese. Beat eggs in a small bowl with the garlic salt.

3. Dip ravioli in egg then press into bread crumbs, coating both sides.

4. Fill the basket of your air fryer with a single layer of ravioli.

5. Set to 350 degrees and 9 minutes.

6. Remove from fryer and serve hot with marinara for dipping, with a nice dusting of fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Yia Yia’s Pimento Cheese Ball (served in Dean’s family for over 60 years)


  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese.
  • Full to 3/4 10 oz. jar of Spanish Olives with Pimento, diced small.
  • 1/2 cup (or to taste) walnut or pecan chips.


1. Let cream cheese come to room temperature and mix all ingredients together. Reserve about ¼ cup of the nuts for garnish.

2. If dip is too thick for your liking, add a little of the olive juice.

3. Form into a ball.

4. Wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Remove from cellophane and roll the ball in the remainder of the nuts

6. Serve with Ritz Crackers an

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